Review: Secrets Typed in Blood: A Pentecost and Parker Mystery #3 by Stephen Spotswood
A NEW YORK TIMES BEST CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR • In the newest entry into the Nero Award-winning Pentecost & Parker Mystery series, Lillian and Will are hot on the trail of a serial killer whose murders are stranger than fiction.
The Pentecost & Parker series “takes gritty 40s noir, shakes it up, gives it a charming twist, and serves it up with unforgettable style” (Deanna Raybourn, author of the Veronica Speedwell Mysteries). From the author of Fortune Favors the Dead and Murder Under Her Skin.
New York City, 1947: For years, Holly Quick has made a good living off of murder, filling up the pages of pulp detective magazines with gruesome tales of revenge. Now someone is bringing her stories to life and leaving a trail of blood-soaked bodies behind. With the threat of another murder looming, and reluctant to go to the police, Holly turns to the best crime-solving duo in or out of the pulps, Willowjean “Will” Parker and her boss, famed detective Lillian Pentecost.
The pair are handed the seemingly-impossible task of investigating three murders at once without tipping off the cops or the press that the crimes are connected. A tall order made even more difficult by the fact that Will is already signed up to spend her daylight hours undercover as a guileless secretary in the hopes of digging up a lead on an old adversary, Dr. Olivia Waterhouse.
But even if Will is stuck in pencil skirts and sensible shoes, she’s not about to let her boss have all the fun. Soon she’s diving into an underground world of people obsessed with murder and the men and women who commit them. Can the killer be found in the Black Museum Club, run by a philanthropist whose collection of grim murder memorabilia may not be enough to satisfy his lust for the homicidal? Or is it Holly Quick’s pair of editors, who read about murder all day, but clearly aren’t telling the full story?
With victims seemingly chosen at random and a murderer who thrives on spectacle, the case has the great Lillian Pentecost questioning her methods. But whatever she does, she’d better do it fast. Holly Quick has a secret, too and it’s about to bring death right to Pentecost and Parker’s doorstep.
Dear Stephen Spotswood,
I reviewed the first two books in these series here at DA, I paid full price for those books and I liked them well enough to buy the third even if the price clocked out at $ 13.99. I still think you are an amazing writer, because I love, love Willowjean’s voice and her boss Lilian Pentecost comes alive on pages. I was irritated by the ending of the second book, but as I said I decided to give the third book a chance because overall I enjoyed the first two books a lot. See, as much as I try not to form a preconceived expectations of a book I am starting to read, I think it is very fair to have preconceived expectations of the *genre* the book is written in and if the book is part of the series I think it is also okay to have expectations formed by the previous book. I don’t think the ending of the second book for me delivered what the book in the mystery genre should have delivered. Opinions on that may differ.
For a while I was really afraid that the ending of this book would deliver something along those lines and I decided that if that happens, I am going to abandon these books. Luckily that did not happen or I should say partially did not happen, because even though the villain in the main investigation is caught at the end, there is someone whom our detectives trying to catch for couple books now and in this book this person temporarily gets an upper hand on them. However, I believe that these books started as homage to some classical mysteries and Niro Wolfe and Archie Goodwin also had a villain who seemingly had an upper hand on them for quite a long time before they caught the person, so I am okay with that.
The investigation was fantastic, very detailed and once again giving me enough historical flavor of 1940s New York to keep me happy. I also thought that Holly (the client mentioned in the blurb) was very well defined as a character. Same as Will I did not really care for her much in the beginning, but she won me over.